Part 2: Designing and Beginning Your Journey

Part 2 of this approach is intended to help you organize your core team, identify champions, get on the same page regarding standards for professional relationships, solidify structures, communicate with your community clearly and frequently, and engage your constituents at all levels.

Get Organized

By participating in DEIBlueprint, you are making an active commitment and effort to engage in a process that will result in concrete, actionable next steps for a variety of your stakeholders. We recommend you go through this checklist to get organized.

▢ Consultation - Work closely with the Academic Climate Program Director to discuss how to implement DEIBlueprint in your particular department, and get consultation.

▢ Commitment - Get a formal commitment of support and engagement from leadership in your department (Chair or Dean, or other relevant leader).

▢ Working Group - Form a working group or committee with representation from staff, faculty, students, and postdocs as well as a diversity of backgrounds/identities (key for bringing a wealth of information to the table, as well as recognizing that climate concerns disproportionately impacts people from marginalized identities). An ideal size is somewhere between 4-8 people. Refer to the next section for additional tips and information.

▢ Co-Chairs - Identify co-chairs for the committee. These should be people who can move the agenda forward, keep meetings on task, send reminders, and schedule meetings.

▢ Membership - For all members: make sure you are not nominating people who have caused harm in the department to a leadership role. Consult with the Academic Climate Program Director about how best to avoid this.

▢ Shared Drive - Create a shared drive to hold your working group documents.

▢ Meetings - Set a 60 minute working meeting every two weeks for the course of the academic year for the entire group. You may not use them all, but schedule them anyway. We recommend beginning this process at the start of a semester rather than halfway through. Also, ensure that you select a meeting space all your group can access.

▢ Collaborators - Early on, identify people with whom you’d like to consult as part of this process. Maybe it’s the events planner or a junior faculty member who has recent experience of faculty mentoring. Once you identify them, invite them to join particular meetings to share their experiences. This also creates greater buy-in from the department community.

Additionally, there are important structural components to include in your committee meetings so that they can be effective.

▢ Agenda - Set agenda topics for all of the meetings. These should mirror sections of the DEIBlueprint approach. For example: Meeting 1 should include components of Part 1 and Part 2 in order to establish a shared understanding and foundation for how you will work together. Store all agendas and notes in the shared drive.

▢ Homework - All meetings should be working meetings. Ask people to bring laptops and be prepared to jump right in. Before each meeting, ask the group to review relevant information and jot down ideas.

▢ Meeting Goals - For each meeting, set a goal to identify both immediate as well as aspirational, longer- term actions. Focus on making them as specific, actionable, and meaningful as possible.

▢ Parking Lot - Keep a “parking lot” document (either in a shared drive or on flip chart paper) to write down concerns or questions that are outside the scope of the current discussion. This will help keep the group focused on creating recommendations. Be sure to return to it before the end of the semester.

Identify Your Champions and Allies

Creating a healthy academic climate takes time and commitment. Success requires identifying the people who will carry the work after the initial momentum has passed and providing them the needed support and resources. These people may become members of your committee, people with whom your group consults, or people tasked with taking on or supporting some of your recommendations.

  • People whose role obligates them to do pieces of this work, such as Diversity and Inclusion committees, Faculty Equity Advisors, people managing risk or safety, people responsible for the health/welfare of a particular community, department managers, etc. Depending on the department, these are people who can take on some of the bigger responsibilities.

  • People with a passion for diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and justice. Every department has committed, caring people who take on extra work to help make the community better. Harnessing their enthusiasm and preventing burnout is critical.

  • People who hold power. Often people in formal leadership roles, who can help get things done.

  • People who are influencers. There are people in your department who wield significant influence over their peers--such as senior faculty, who often hold the most influence. Identify these people early on, consult with them about how to most effectively reach the community in order to create buy-in, and leverage their influence to support your project.1

  • Key stakeholders. It is important to understand how all the members of your community view the academic climate. Reaching out early and often to a diverse range of undergraduates, graduate/professional students, staff, academic appointees, and faculty will allow you to create the best plan possible, and facilitate participation and buy-in.

  • People who are skilled with change management in your setting. Change requires adaptation, and creates stress. Every department has members who are skilled at leading others through changes. Bring those people into your work.

When creating your working group, consider identifying an existing committee that should hold the charge for this, as well as creating one from a cross-section of interest groups (prioritizing diversity of both role and identity). If creating a new group, don’t forget colleagues who work in more isolated or non-traditional settings (for example, teaching online or working at an offsite lab). 

Make sure that people get credit for the work they do; this can include things like service credit, offering coffee or snacks for meetings, stipends, and/or acknowledging their work publicly and in performance reviews. Make sure there is room in their workload and that they have the ear of decision-makers.

Of course, the most important way to acknowledge their work is to make sure it is implemented correctly and has longevity in the department.

Review Standards for Professional Relationships

Standards for professional relationships in the university setting have evolved over time. Making sure that everyone in your department is on the same page regarding healthy, appropriate professional boundaries is important.

First, make sure everyone in your community understands the existing policies that govern their behavior. Some policies to familiarize yourself with are:

Policy is only the starting point. The reminder of the institution’s expectations is necessary. Posting or sharing these in multiple locations on a regular basis with the relevant audiences is the best way to make sure people are at least aware of their existence. Additionally, making sure they are incorporated into community expectations for new employees and students is key.

Communicate with Transparency

It is important to identify multiple ways to communicate with your community clearly and frequently about the climate change process in which your department is engaging. Below are samples of ways you can communicate formally and informally.

Formal communication

This includes things like:

  • Emails from the Dean/Chair or other leadership Newsletters

  • Handbooks

  • Annual report

  • Invitations to events 

  • Departmental social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) 

  • Department website

  • Materials given to prospective and newly enrolled students at recruitment or orientation

  • Materials given to new employees

  • Posters, flyers, pamphlets produced by the department 

  • Syllabi

  • Signs posted in common areas (kitchens, etc.) by a representative of the department

Informal communication

Informal communication includes things like:

  • Announcements and updates at standing group meetings (like a faculty or staff meeting or committee meeting) 

  • Discussions on listservs

  • Groups on social media (e.g. Facebook groups, Slack channels)

  • Individual social media accounts of people in your department (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)

  • Informal invitations to parties within specific communities in your department (for example, a happy hour for one laboratory).

Use the above to communicate:

  • Your department/your support of a healthy academic climate

  • A reminder of resources available to your department

  • The importance of participating in a climate survey

  • Opportunities to get involved in improving the climate

  • Ways to give feedback

  • Expectations for behavior at upcoming events or programs

  • While individual social media accounts are the responsibility of the owner, you can broadly ask members of your community who feel comfortable doing so to help spread the word through their social media, and make it easy for them to do so (create a Facebook post they can share easily, or a Tweet they can re-Tweet)

  • Community norms and values (“Our department values respect and civility at all times; there is no place for sexual harassment here,” for example). 

  • Remember: in order to reach most people in your department, you will need to communicate the same information multiple times, in multiple ways.

Points of contact

It is important to designate a point of contact(s) for questions or concerns. Make it clear who to contact for what inside the department and outside the department.

Design the Team Alliance

Before you have your first or next committee meeting, it is important to co-create the “rules of engagement” or “ground rules.” Establishing how you will work together, including how to disagree and manage conflict, will create a culture or atmosphere of trust and establish shared responsibility and commitment. The Program Director can help you design the team alliance, which includes these key components:

  1. Identity the committee's agenda or charge (and park it).
  2. Set context. Create agreements for working together.
  3. Start designing. Not how I want YOU to be. Instead, how I, as committee member, can commit to be and what is trying to happen for us and our collaboration.
  4. Create Co-responsibility. Each person is co-responsible in creating the experience or culture they want for the collaboration.
  5. Set facilitator agreements. Define the support and expectations of the facilitator role. In this process, the facilitator is the Program Director.


Part 2 borrows heavily from PATH to Care Center, Toolkit for Preventing Harassment in Academic Departments, UC Berkeley and references these other resources:
1 Nation, M., Crusto, C.; Wandersman, A.; Kumpfer, K.; Seybolt, D.; Morrisssey-Kane, E.; Davino, K. (2003). What Works in Prevention: Principles of Effective Prevention Programs. American Psychologist, 58 (6-7), 449-456.